Campus Clicker Adoptions

The Chronicle of Higher Education recently posted an essay by Michael Bugeja titled “Could You Be a Hoopla-dite?” in which Bugeja criticizes those at colleges and universities who advocate for instructional technologies without thinking critically about the hidden costs (training, technical support, etc.) of those technologies or without assessing those technologies to see if they are worth their cost.  Bugeja takes a pretty harsh tone in his essay, but he provides some sensible suggestions for institutions adopting instructional technologies.  Check out his seven recommendations at the end of his essay.

Bugeja uses clickers as an example of a technology that wasn’t properly vetted at his institution, Iowa State University.  Unfortunately, this is the only example of an instructional technology he describes in his essay, which makes it a little too easy to see his essay as directed at those who would uncritically advocate the use of clickers.  I don’t think that’s his intention, but as someone who advocates the use of clickers (not uncritically, I like to think), I would have appreciated an example or two of the adoption of other instructional technologies.

Bugeja writes, “We need to assess technology to weed out ineffective systems and applications and preserve those that truly enhance our educational missions.”  This sounds sensible to me.  However, as Steve Ehrmann said on this blog, “When evaluating educational impact, it’s not possible (or desirable) to separate technology from the pedagogy that makes use of it.”  It’s not possible to “assess the product” (one of Bugeja’s recommendations) without assessing the instructional choices teachers make when using the product.  This complicates the task of assessing instructional technologies like clickers. Fortunately, in the case of clickers, there’s a growing body of research that explores the impact on student learning of the ways in which instructors make use of clickers.

What steps has your institution taken to assess the impact of the use of clickers on your campus?  What challenges have you encountered in undertaking assessment efforts?

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